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China's H-6K Bomber Displays High Ballistic Missile-Carrying Capacity

© Chinamil; Gao HongweiAn H-6 bomber attached to a naval aviation regiment under the PLA Southern Theater Command takes off during the flight training on January 5, 2022
An H-6 bomber attached to a naval aviation regiment under the PLA Southern Theater Command takes off during the flight training on January 5, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.07.2024
An official photo recently released by the Chinese military showed the outstanding capability of the H-6K bomber in carrying air-launched ballistic missiles - capable of carrying four instead of two previously shown to the public.
The photo, published in a release posted in the WeChat account of the air force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command on Saturday, showed an H-6K bomber taking off ahead of a mid-night exercise at an undisclosed date in the summer.

Observers pointed out that the H-6K in the photo carried two air-launched ballistic missiles, dubbed the YJ-21 by foreign media, under one side of its wings, indicating that it very likely carried four missiles in total under two wings, considering the need to keep balance.

The missile made its official debut at the Airshow China 2022 held in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province. At the time, an H-6K bomber carrying one such missile under each wing was put on static display to event visitors.

Foreign media also noted that China Central Television for the first time released a clip showing an H-6K bomber firing the missile in May.

Citing the aerodynamic design of the missile, experts reached by the Global Times said that it is likely a type of air-launched ballistic missile that can hit stationary targets as well as slowly moving targets including aircraft carriers at hypersonic speeds from extended distances.

Since the missile seems larger and heavier than other types of munitions carried by the H-6K, observers had presumed that the bomber could only carry two rather than four, but the new official photo negated that presumption, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday.

It revealed that the H-6K bomber has sufficient payload capacity and its wings has sufficient structural strength, the expert said.
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The additional missiles on the H-6K can significantly increase the PLA Air Force's long-range precision strike capabilities in anti-access/area denial missions, the expert said.

China is not the only country that operates air-launched ballistic missiles. Russia's Mig-31 interceptor is also capable of carrying the Kinzhal, which is widely believed to be a hypersonic weapon, according to media reports.
This article originally appeared on the Global Times website.
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